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Inaugural AFC Child Safeguarding Seminar 2019 concludes in Thailand

Junior Soccer

The Asian Football Confederation’s commitment to protect the welfare and safety of children across the Continent marked a significant milestone with the first-ever AFC Child Safeguarding Seminar 2019 which concluded today in Chonburi, Thailand.

Held in conjunction with the ongoing AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019, the objective of the seminar was to expand the reach of the new FIFA Child Safeguarding Programme and Toolkit – FIFA Guardians – a major initiative launched by the world governing body in July this year aimed at assisting Member Associations and Confederations around the world to introduce stronger child safeguarding measures in football.

Organised in collaboration with the Football Association of Thailand (FA Thailand), more than 30 participants, including representatives from the eight participating Member Associations, local non-governmental organisations as well as clubs and academies were given the opportunity to widen their knowledge on the industry’s best practices from UNICEF Thailand.

AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Windsor John said: “Our children, our youth represent our future. The AFC has underlined our ambitions to use the power of football as a force for social development and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to cultivate a lifelong passion for the game in the best possible environment.

“Our success relies significantly on embarking on a shared journey together and I must thank FIFA, FA Thailand, UNICEF, our participating members and valued partners for their commitment towards strengthening the systems, structures and building a better, brighter, and above all, safer environment for our future generation of players.”

Containing practical guidance and support materials, the FIFA Guardians toolkit is based on “five principles and five steps” that are underpinned by internationally recognised standards in child safeguarding across sports.

Child safeguarding encompasses the prevention of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect and maltreatment of children by everyone in the football ecosystem, including contractors, business partners, visitors to premises and volunteers.

Ms. Miyazaki Etsuko, Manager, Coach Education Group for the Japan Football Association (JFA) said: “Grassroots and youth football is growing rapidly in Japan, which ultimately raises the demand for JFA to ensure that the security and interest of our players are always protected.

“Today’s seminar has provided an excellent platform not only to gain insights from international experts, but as guardians of the game, it has also strengthened our resolve as one family to ensure child protection is given a louder voice and greater focus.”

Fox looking to add virtual fans to broadcast

Virtual fans

Fox in the United States is looking to add fans into their coverage even with empty stadiums, using virtual reality (VR) technology.

According to the New York Post, the media company, along with fellow broadcasters ESPN, NBC, CBS and Turner Sports, are seeking to improve the fan experience at home by bringing in VR technology to enhance their viewing of the game.

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As all sporting events are most likely to only be shown behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is an idea that could serve a valuable purpose for the foreseeable future until it’s safe for spectators to return in mass gatherings.

Fox broadcaster Joe Buck has been adamant in suggesting that virtual fans are something we should expect to see, as broadcasters work out the best way to implement it.

Speaking on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live, the addition of fake crowd noise could add some extra excitement to contests.

“[Virtual fans is] pretty much a done deal,” Buck said.

“I think whoever is going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on what just happened on the field. So it’s really important.

“And then on top of that … They’re looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands, so when you see a wide shot it looks like the stadium is jam-packed and in fact it’ll be empty.”

The German Bundesliga recently restarted between closed doors, but there was definitely an eerie feeling without the atmosphere.

If you watched the derby between Dortmund vs Schalke, there is potential for crowd noise to be filtered through around the PA systems, as each of Dortmund’s goals were followed by chants by the intimidating yellow wall.

With crowd noise absent completely, it could hinder a club’s dominance at home with familiar comforts, or remove just a little bit of normality during these strange times.

As we’ve seen with Fox, they would just like to make games seem as though it’s like the old times, despite adding the technology being a challenge.

2023 Women’s World Cup: Host to be announced June 25

Australia and New Zealand will find out whether they will host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in under six weeks’ time.

FIFA have confirmed the successful candidate will be announced on June 25, following a vote by their council.

Alongside the joint Australian and New Zealand bid, Brazil, Colombia and Japan are still in the running to host the 2023 event.

“We believe that our proven ability to deliver the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is a key strength of our bid,” FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said.

“Our world-class infrastructure, modern stadia, high-quality football facilities in both Australia and New Zealand and major event hosting experience ensure certainty in delivering the first 32 team FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“From operational excellence, record-breaking crowds, commercial success, strong government support, a warm embrace from our 200 diverse cultures to a genuine profound legacy across the Asia-Pacific region, Australia-New Zealand offers certainty in uncertain times, as well as impact,” he said.

New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood said: “Our proposal offers FIFA a ground-breaking approach to hosting its greatest women’s tournament.  We are two nations from two confederations, united in proposing a historic and exciting step forward for world football.

“We will be a tournament of firsts. The first ever co-Confederation hosted FIFA World Cup, the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere.

“And as important as all of this, we are nations proud of our commitment to equality and fairness and would embody a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 built on common humanity through football.

“As the world looks to adapt and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our bid offers an exciting vision to bring the world together As One in 2023 to celebrate women’s football and inspire women and girls around the world,” she concluded.

Stuart Hodge addresses future for Football NSW

Stuart Hodge

Football NSW Chief Executive Officer Stuart Hodge has addressed key topics on the association’s radar in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the CDSFA Community Football Podcast, Hodge is keen for the league to restart as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“I certainly think the government have to take in a lot of factors as we’ve seen with the pandemic – anything can change one day to the next,” he said.

“It was a positive step forward that they’ve got the national principles and the government and NSW will now review those and look at guidelines.

“They’ll have to balance that up with other information that they have and state-specific information here in NSW.

“We’re hopeful given that from some of the surveys which we’ve seen that most people are keen to get out and play again.

“The physical, mental and social benefits are well documented, but we have to make sure we do it under the right conditions and that is when the government says it’s okay.”

The flow on effect of the competition’s postponement will be how clubs juggle summer sports with councils if they clash later down the line, something Hodge is aware of.

“It’s a challenge for all of them and we’re in discussions with some summer sports to try and get some principles in place that if we get football resumed, we’ll have some additional time beyond what we normally get,” he said.

“From some associations, the feedback is from councils have been very sympathetic.

“We’ve collectively lost a couple months of the season already so the opportunity to play a little bit later into the year would be welcomed.

“We’re also conscious that we want to try and keep things on track for next year when hopefully we return on time.

“It’s a balance because we appreciate that there’s also participants that are involved in multiple sports so we’re wanting to help them out and not over-burden them.

“Councils also need to turn fields around although I noticed some of them looking magnificent at the moment.

“We’ve had some very big discussions and hopefully it’s just a fair and reasonable approach which is all we’re asking for.”

One of the main issues across all sports due to postponements has been the topic of refunds, with games in professional sport being played behind closed doors.

While there’s still the unknown about when fans can return to grounds in 2020 and beyond, Hodge has clarified how Football NSW will look to navigate through this tricky time.

“I think in the interim if people are facing financial hardship then of course they should be in touch with their club to get a refund,” Hodge said.

“If the season gets underway then we’ll have to redo our modelling and look at what the fee structures are.

“I hope we do get back on the field and we can go down that path – if the season doesn’t get played then everyone will have to sit and remodel what the costs are and things like that.”

Since this podcast was published on 5th May, Football NSW have moved a step closer to resuming training at the very least with the NSW Government confirming an easing of restrictions – taking affect from Friday 15th May including:

  • outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time
  • up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
  • weddings up to 10 guests
  • indoor funerals up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals up to 30
  • religious gatherings/places of worship up to 10 worshipers
  • use of outdoor equipment with caution
  • outdoor pools open with restrictions.

In a recent press release, it’s mentioned the Office of Sport is working closely with government agencies about how sporting organisations can safely return to action.

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